Skip to main content

tv   American Revolution in Boston  CSPAN  November 11, 2016 12:45pm-1:56pm EST

12:45 pm
gentleme gentlemen. you're watching american history tv. like us on facebook at c-span history. unnext on american history tv, author derek beck discusses his books "igniting the american revolution 1773 to 1775" and the war before independence, 1775 through 1776. in this hour-long talk at the tavern museum in new york city, mr. beck details both sides of the conflicts in and around boston, massachusetts, prior to the declaration of independence.
12:46 pm
tonight we are delighted to have derek beck presented "the war before independence" 1775. derek has always had a passion for military history which inspired him to start his career in the u.s. air force, he has served as an officer on active duty and science roles and in space operations. in 2005 he earned a master of science degree at m.i.t. where he also fell in love with boston's revolutionary past. to more fully pursue writing, he later transitioned to the air force reserves, though he still remains quite active, presently holding the rank of major. derek's first book "igniting the american revolution, 1773 to 1775" received an honorable mention here at the fraunces tavern museum book award in april. derek's second book, the sequel, "the war before independence" and that was released in may. i would now like to welcome derek to the lectern.
12:47 pm
[ applause ] >> thank you all for coming. it's an honor to be here at the fraunces tavern. it's exciting to give a historic lecture at a historic site. i have two books that together tell the entire boston campaign but the first is actually the -- it covers from the start of the war which i describe as really the start of the action at the boston tea party at the end of 1773 and then the first schotz are fired and it ends with the siege of boston just beginning and that's how book two starts. both books are stand alone, they can be read independently but the -- they are -- they do together tell the entire boston campaign. so a little bit more about who i am and really the reason behind this book. so i was already kind of describing the details but when i joined the air force i was stationed at los angeles air force base and i discovered an
12:48 pm
interest in film making. i started working on some short films on the weekends, took some sources at the new york film academy both in l.a. and here and wanted to focus on writing and story telling so that i had material to shoot. then i went to m.i.t., became interested specifically in the revolutionary history and i thought it would make a great movie so i started a film script about the start of the war. that was the outline that became these two books. as i was doing the research, i was discovering a lot of details that couldn't be captured in a film and i was going to the source material, the original letters, some of which had never been published. and there was a lot of underrepresentation on the british side and i was trying to tell the story on both sides so i felt like i had to turn this into a book which then became two books. so why history? that's a question i hear a lot, actually, why history? history is boring and i think
12:49 pm
that's wrong. i think if you think it's boring then you're reading the right books because history is exciting. there are people shooting at each other and if you were in these events, if you could see them your heart would be racing for sure. they should not be boring. it's like an action event, sure it happened in the past and that was my approach, i approach it from a cinematic way and i wanted to capture that excitement. so the academic answers for why people study history is, for one, you understand your culture, where we came from is -- that's sort of the cultural roots of everything we do today in this society. the other reason, of course, is that hopefully we learn from the past, a lot of times we don't learn from the past, but hopefully we can take something from the past and learn from it and not make those same mistakes. but, again, i think the reason
12:50 pm
is exciting and i have different approaches to make that happen and you can read them there but one of the key things i think is focusing on real people and make them real, georgereal. george washington was the hero of the revolution but not a spro superhero. he has flaws. if you get to read his letters or hear his perspective, he was doubting himself quite a bit. that makes him more relatable. the american and british side gives a real value and relatable understanding to the british. the british are not just robotic enemies, they have logic behind decision making. i'm in the air force. i actually work with british officers today. they seem to be like good chaps. i thought why is it i learn they are the bad guys and americans are the good guys. i avoid the patriot.
12:51 pm
patriot means a lover of one's country. so the british were fighting for their empire and their country. they were patriots in their eyes. the fact is sometimes the good guys look like the bad guys, sometimes the bad guys look like the good guys. i try to portray it as the journalist following along and under the circumstances get to make the decision who is the bad guy or the good guy. i don't make that for you. this is something a little different than other history books. a lot of bogged down with details. we have this event and this event and a gap in information. we have to theorize how to connect these two events. most history books explain the different sources and explain the different perspectives and it just bogs down the story. i go with my prevailing theory of the evidence and explain and defend it in the back. all those things you need as a historian, all the end notes, my
12:52 pm
end notes are beefed up. i have more appendixes. there's information in the back historians love but the body reads like a narrative. reviews called it compared to reading like an action novel. i don't want to bog down the story. i want you to enjoy the action and events and all the stuff that slows down most history books doesn't need to be in the body. >> so my first book, and i'm just going to recap the first book to catch you up to where the first book is. the book starts with boston tea party. the ultimate result of the tea party is british try to force boston to pay back the tea and pass a series of acts or laws that effectively cripple boston. one is the port act. it closes down the port of boston putting a ton of people out of work and creating a local
12:53 pm
economic depression. and the second is the massachusetts government act. it restricts freedom of assembly. actually something like this event right now, getting together and actually talking about things that the government hasn't sanctioned was not allowed. then the big takeaway really is that governor -- the royal governor that was a civilian and american born is now replaced with general thomas gauge, first royal governor, also military from massachusetts, commander in chief of all british forces in north america. throughout 1774, tea party end of 1773. throughout 1774 to enforce acts and british called coercive acts, americans called intolerable acts. to enforce these acts they sent troops to boston. previously there were no troops in boston since 1770 and the boston massacre. the result of the boston massacre in 1770 is they kicked
12:54 pm
the troops out of boston. now they have come back. turns out by the end of 1774, one out of five souls in boston is a soldier officer. imagine, you have a lot of people out of work. they are kind of ticked off with nothing to do. boston if you go up there now it's hard to see what it was like then. it's a peninsula. they lowered hills and filled in mud flats and basically created boston as it is today. back then it was a small peninsula. you're sort of trapped, out of work, a lot of time on your hands and you have soldiers reminding you every day because you see them everywhere you're in this predicament because of overbearing parliamentary decisions. what's going to happen? you're going to have fighting in the streets. there's a lot of brawls that happen. escalation occurs both within and outside of boston until finally the new royal governor and general gauge, the british
12:55 pm
general, decides he has to take action. he learns of intelligence that the americans are collecting weapons outside of boston and concord. he's going to take a preemptive action to seize americans to prevent uprising from his forces in boston. the leader of the revolution at this point is dr. joseph warren. he is basically unknown today. that's too bad. he is my focus character for the first part of this book into the second book. he is, in my mind, the guy that should be remembered. the names we all know john hancock, samuel adams, john adams in april 1775 right as gauge is about to seize these weapons in concord they are outside of boston not in boston. he's in boston controlling protests, not quite yet a full
12:56 pm
on revolution but the reaction to british oppression in boston. after the first shots, hancock and the two adamses go to philadelphia for continental congress and warns the guy in charge. he becomes defacto governor from the revolutionary side. warren is the guy that sends these two men -- so when he sees the british boston common, preparing to go to concord to seize these weapons, at first he sees indications throughout the town that this may be happening. so he sends the man on the left, william dawes, as precaution to ride out to lexington and warn hancock and samuel adams. later there's indications that warren actually seems them in boston common so he sends the man on the right in an urgent ride to washington.
12:57 pm
that man is very famous. i'm sure we all know who he is. he's the famous actor jack black. clearly they look the same. clearly jack black has been told the same. paul revere. paul revere rides out, meets up with das in lexington. they ride to concourt going house to house yelling. i think we all know what he says. the americans are coming! he says, "the americans are coming!" you're looking at me confused. if i came to your house in the middle of the night and knocked on your door and said the americans are coming, you'd give me the same look. if you had a musket you'd point it at me because you would think i was crazy. same with paul revere. he did not go to the house and say the british are coming. they are all british americans. the big issue. the reason why there's an issue between american colonies and britain because american colonies want to feel more like
12:58 pm
british. they feel like second class citizens. it's really not about taxation. taxation without representation, focus on representation. it's about they are second class citizens and do not have representation in parliament. they see how they are treated many different ways the way george washington complained he couldn't actually have position in the government of video because he was american born. there's lots of indications people are fed up, they were second class citizens. they wanted to be treated like british, like britons in britain. that was the major complaint. they were proud to be british. they were happy to not be french. and they wanted to be recognized as british. if you were to come up to any house at that time and said, "the british are coming," they will have looked at you
12:59 pm
confused. it made no sense. paul revere -- yes, three versions of the deposition of his ride that night and he doesn't tell us exactly what he said. he may have said -- probably said the regulars are coming, referring to regular army, militia or red coats are coming. or as depicted in re-enactments in concord, the regulars are turning out. something like that but he definitely did not say the british are coming. so the british do come. so i have to use those terms because it's a modern audience and i have to make those distinctions. the british to march. on the way to concord over here they meet up with lexington militia on a green that's like a park. the road passes to the south. the british should have stayed on the road and passed them. the militia standing in protest not intending for any skirmish to happen there. the shot rings out, first shot. we don't know who shot first. indications came from spectator,
1:00 pm
american spectator on the sidelines. in the end it didn't matter. shots rang out and americans used it for the propaganda war that was to come. who shot first is important just like in "star wars" 1977. it's hard to see here. hans solo in 19 7 shoots a bounty hunter that's after him for money on behalf of jabba the hut. he shoots in cold blood this bounty hunter. in 1990, george lucas remakes "star wars" movies and changes, digitally alters the scene so bounty hunter shoots and hans solo fired second. that's a big deal, because they felt hans solo needed moral authority. it's the same case for americans. they felt like whoever shot first, it was vitally important as british seen as the one that
1:01 pm
started the war because of that moral authority. americans had to be the victims to win hearts and minds in britain as allies with french later in the war. after the first shot at lexington, the british make their way unharassed. shots fired at concord. british do admit fault in this case. then there are the militia, thanks so paul revere and other riders, many other riders, have come to concord and they basically harassed the british all the way back. there's ambush upon ambush all the way to lexington. original expeditionary force destroyed and almost out of ammunition until they get to lexington and relieved to see reinforcement of soldiers there. this british reinforcement, expeditionary force basically takes them back to boston.
1:02 pm
the worst fighting was house to house in a town that's now arlington. then from there the british moved charlottetown and north to boston. the result of this day long battle is the british find themselves pinned up in boston, besieged, autumn these british around boston peninsula. by the way, they didn't find any of these weapons in concord because they were hidden ahead of british rifgs. the next two months the british are stuck in boston. they get new officers and new soldiers arriving daily in may. two of these gentlemen are william howe and his deputy robert pigot. that leads to plan where british are going to go south. this is the peninsula of boston. these are the americans
1:03 pm
surrounding them. and peninsula to the south called dorchester, south of both landfill. it's no man's land. there are cows, no houses. british going to send troops by boat and circle around and take american troops in cambridge. that's the plan. there's also no man's land charlestown. that's a real town there. because the troops are on one side and the americans on the other, the inhabitants realize they are stuck between two armies and they abandon the town. by june 1775, the charlestontown is also a no man's land. however, the american intelligence network is pretty good. instead of waiting for the british to attack dorchester and circle to cambridge they decided june 16th they are going to do a preemptive maneuver and create a fort or redoubt out of earth work on ahill in charlestown near the british in boston and
1:04 pm
put some cabbon in there which they hope can rain down on boston and put british at risk. that's the plan june 16. the british will decide that morning june 17th when they find this new fortification on the hill that they are going to meet the americans in the first real pitch battle of the war. meantime takes a while to cross the river by boat and americans continue to fortify. there's a square four foot, five foothill of dirt they have created here and they extended out in one line, created other fortifications. here there's a fence. the fence is basically one fence that they have reinforced with another fence ahead and stuffed with hay. so americans think they are ready. general howe is going to lead
1:05 pm
this fight. he's on the field. he's dismayed the real fence, the intended path, he's going to try to circle around and surround these americans on the hill. he's made to see this rail fence transitioning across the river. yet he's happy to see a secret way yet undiscovered by americans, a beach path. along the beach, the beach is 8 to 10 feet below battlefield. americans on the battlefield can't see it. it's about 4 to 5 feet wide, rocky. there's no americans there. so the british plan is going to be to move their lightest troops, which they call light infantry. they carry very little light weapons and light baggage up that beach. the plan is they are going to get around the americans and break this rail fence and then everyone is going to surround them. hopefully americans will
1:06 pm
disperse because british are supposedly the greatest army in the world. that's the plan. however, new hampshire sends some troops over there. new hampshire has a couple of militia companies in the area. one of their colonels determines that beach is open. he decides to put a couple dozen, that's all, americans down there. they put together a little cobble fence they call it with a couple rocks, no more than knee high. they wait for the bridge. the bridge nearly 330 troops coming up that way. the british have bayonets, americans have no bayonets. here is what happened. i'll read from the book. triple road defenders held their fire as the elegant column of light nr marched up the beach towards them with bayonets glistening. slowly approached the steak in the ground placed earlier. perhaps one of the british soldiers noticed it as he marched by.
1:07 pm
the british column was determined to plow through stark's men with bayonet alone. they were nearly close enough to begin their charge, then the dull barrels before them steady to a level when some new england twang gave the order. they fired. inside stanley disappeared in a plume of white smoke. likely only half fired first. the others fired neck as the first reloaded. their musket balls formed a wall of led flung to helpless british ripping into them and des mating front rows, their boesds tumbling in the river. the next row staggered as they struggled to get over cashage their brother in arms, kept incessant fire on them, mowing them down four at a time, rank by rank. officers and privates fell alike, their blood ming ling with small tidal pools that collected on the beach. the officer shouted and tried to push their men out but british discipline failed.
1:08 pm
without orders some lead british blindly fired muskets towards white smoke that replaced cobble fence defenders. a fatal mistake. by awkwardly slowing to fire muskets instead of charging ahead red coats lingered within lethal range of american musketry which only allowed yankees to slaughter more of them causing british bodies to pile up as hurdles of carnage for those behind. all of this caused column to compress on it's self, front ranks driven to a halt while men in back continued forward. british officers managed to drive the following companies forward in a feeble charge. both momentum and initiative were lost. the unforgiving american musketry continued to wipe out lead british soldiers until the column at last gave way and began to fall back. so meanwhile as they are doing this, the other forces, by the way, are moving forward but kind of stalling outside of musketry
1:09 pm
range and the british royal navy bombards charlestown because american snipers are there. it starts a blaze. the light infantry doesn't do what it's expected. the fight on the beach didn't go as british expect and then they retreat. now general howe is stuck. has he a decision to make. this attack here is not meant to be an attack. they are just stalling, waiting for the beach attack to do its job before they moved through. now he has to make a decision. he decides he's going to charge his troops on the battlefield at the americans. it's not really a smart decision, and it's probably one he did because of honor. the fact is just imagine this. americans are behind a 4 or 5 foot pile of dirt. they have muskets. nobody really has rifles at this point. muskets are kind of like tubes with balls in them. if you could take one of these tubes, put it in a tripod, aim
1:10 pm
it 50 feet away do scientific comparison of every shot one shot might be there, one might be there. they are so inaccurate. the ball bounces down the tube and flies out. the risk of actually getting shot by a musket is very low. sure, the way to do this, and the reason why they march in line, if you get a bunch of guys together and they all shoot together, some of those shots will hit their target but most of them will not. they be if you do fire, so if you're an american at the rail fence, for example, you fire, now you've got about 30 seconds to reload. probably a little slower because you're nervous. you've got guys running at you with blades on their guns. oh, by the way, you don't have any bayonets. so basically the americans have come, once it gets to close range, americans have come to a knife fight without a knife. the british had blades every one of them fixed on their muskets.
1:11 pm
muskets are long and bayonets long, like long shiny spear they are running at you and americans don't have any of that. this is pretty scary. if the british simply continue forward once the musket balls start shooting out, certainly you can fire beyond 50 feet and maybe hit something, they are wildly inaccurate beyond 50 feet these muskets. if the british keep their lines, once they get within lethal range charge towards americans, americans will have no choice but to retreat. but that's not what happens. so they move forward. americans start shooting and british make a fatal mistake and they stop and they shoot back. the americans are behind 4 or 5 foot tall piles of dirt or rail fences stuff with hey over here. the british are standing out in the open. it doesn't go up for the
1:12 pm
british. they suffer extreme casualties and finally retreat. so now howe has to figure out what to do differently. he repositions the troops into column formation. now, columns over here, that will make sense. because if the first couple of troops in a column, which is about four guys wide and hundreds deep, even if they do get shot down, there's so many behind you can't stop the momentum. the americans won't be able to stop the momentum. they know this but they are going to hold their ground regardless. on the british right, they position just like before. they hope the americans are going to fall for it because it's a ruse. so they kind of cooky march forward staying out of musket tree range and then they prepare
1:13 pm
to do a charge. as british drew near americans held their fire waiting until the red coats were still closer, uncomfortably closer. suddenly all at once the british left wing broke their stride and charged forward rushing up toward redoubt. on the british right, the frontline comprised of grenadiers and light infantry charged for and began a feint firing at the rail fence from a distance. simultaneously the second british right wings suddenly in a column surged left. they charged leftward toward redoubt passing british field artillery. in an instant the entire british assault had become a swarm of columns. this surprised the redoubt defenders but prescott and his men held their fire. over at the rail fence it was obvious the position was no longer the objective so its
1:14 pm
defenders immediately began firing. and what happens next is light infantry stays over here and fires safe distance to keep rail fence defenders in check. everyone else just storms into and over these earthen work into the americans. again, the americans do not have bayonets but the british do and they all do. so it's pretty intense fighting over there. on the very far british left here, one is a marine lieutenant, and he realizes that his troops are kind of mixed with some of the other companies and disorganized. what he does is talk to the officers next to him and they agree to charge in and over the redou redoubt. i didn't mention this drflt joseph warren came and he was in the redoubt as a
1:15 pm
volunteer working with prescott who is in charge at the redoubt. so lieutenant waller is the marine. he asks two officers to form the flanks and charge redoubts with bayonets. the officers all agreed. together three files stormed pass hedges through the ditch, over the berm and up the ramp art. inside the redoubt prescott quickly refocused his yankee defenders in that direction meeting valiant british charge with stiff resistance. the regulars took heavy casualties including british captain campbell shot dead as his man swarmed up through redoubt. there were too many red coats for the rebel defender to repulse. as the british began mounting the western parapit, prescott's men mode them down. next soldiers took their place mounting parapet one smacking the thigh of greeley. for want of ammunition, the british poured into the redoubt.
1:16 pm
lieutenant jesse adair of the marines was first. the british poured in from all sides. the battle of redoubt came vicious and bloody melee. british swarmed in, disemboweling yankees. lieutenant waller wrote, i can't pretend to describe the horror of the scene of redoubt. when we entered it was streaming with blood and strewn with dying men, soldiers stabbing some and bashing out brains of others was a sight i couldn't any longer. this is brutal fighting. the result, of course, is that the americans are forced to retreat. don't have bayonets, can't fight at close range. during the retreat there are stories about dr. joseph warren. he dies in this battle.
1:17 pm
he decides in the battle. one story is he's shot in the head as he's rushing out. another is he gives a dying speech before he is shot. third is he is shot in the face as he's rallying some of the retreating americans to shoot one more volley into the on coming british. the reinforcement does come over and pursue the americans off the peninsula. so this is dr. joseph warren. dr. joseph warren was reinterred four times, his skull photographed by his nephew also a director and founder of mass general hospital in the 1850s. they didn't think about forensic. nobody put a ruler in here to figure out size. but through some forensics that the biography dr. joseph warren has done, dr. sam foreman is the biographer, they were able to do averaging of orbitals for males of his ethnicity during that era to try to get some measurement
1:18 pm
here. here is the entry room and there's the blast out the back of the skull. this entry wound, this entry shot is determined as about half an inch in diameter. the musket that the british soldiers carried 3/4 of an inch. this shot is smaller, which means it's probably a pistol shot. a pistol was carried by either an officer or officer's servant. we don't know much about servants, but a lot of officers were nobody else. they had servants, either from home or handpicked one soldier to be acting as their servant on the battlefield. whoever it was, the most important thing to take away was the muzzle velocity of guns was very low, which means to shoot all the way through the skull he was shot very close range and the story that he rallied the troops to fire into the british is probably true. he definitely saw his assailant. that was probably the last image he saw.
1:19 pm
that's how dr. joseph warren dies. that's really why he's forgotten, he dies early in the war. he's the first martyr of the revolution. he was very well loved in massachusetts. john adams and samuel adams thought of him, dr. warren, as their protege. he may have been a future u.s. president. unfortunately we'll never know. what was the point of the battle of bunker hill. british have charlestown peninsula, no man's land. they meanwhile put 600 officers and soldiers into this fight not counting reinforcement that comes over later of which 41% of them are either killed or wounded. almost half of the fighting force is killed or wounded for a peninsula that no one really needed or cared for. meanwhile the british had to extend their troops to two peninsulas to protect more land and less men to do it because
1:20 pm
they lost quite a few. americans meanwhile george washington tried to figure out later how many americans actually fought at the battle. because there was no real organization, there's multiple militias from different counties and different parts in new england, nobody knows for sure but george washington estimated perhaps 3,000 participated overall, but they would come and go throughout the day. so it's believed no more than 2,000 were there at once, of which 22% killed or wounded or captured by the british when they took the field. so the british two peninsulas, royal navy, have a little garrison on this island, they have gained nothing. do they have a little elbow room? maybe. but they are still stuck. that's the issue. they sacrificed a lot of people for very little gain. george washington already selected by continental congress to take over militia because it's a mess organizationally and turned them into a new
1:21 pm
continental army yet he's on his way to boss before the battle of bunker hill. he's i believe around new york during battle of bunker hill. he learns about it while he's en route but he's never there. he never meets dr. joseph warren. i consider the battle of bunker hill kind of a turning point in leadership. dr. joseph warren hands over his leadership of the revolution to george washington by dying and washington coming. meanwhile general gage in charge of british forces is fired because of the battle of bunker hill. and general howe battlefield takes over as new commander, howe versus washington for the rest of the war t. washington gets to massachusetts besides trying to assemble the army has no gubs to force british from boston and very little gunpowder.
1:22 pm
however, also a major british force in canada, very strong concerns they will come down and break the siege of boston, which is, in fact, their aim. the continental congress authorizes a new campaign into canada. personally i never learned any of this in elementary school. i had no idea canada was involved. they were invited, they called it 13 colonies, only because that's the 13 that came, but there were other invited. colonel arnold, benedict arnold is one of the key men in this campaign to canada. he goes up through maine and quebec city. richard montgomery goes and he actually has some seenlgs along lake champlain and up through montreal but meets benedict arnold at quebec city. i'm not going to give everything away in the book but the battle is epic. they fight during a blizzard on
1:23 pm
new year's eve, 1775. up to this point, the walled city of quebec has never been breached. in the french and indian war the way the british won it from the french, the french were safe in their city. the way the british won it, they finally goaded french commander to come out of his fortress onto the field in front of it and that's where the english beat the french and took the city. if the french would have stayed in the city, it would have still been french. so benedict arnold thinks they can do it. the ultimate result, though, of the campaign in canada is that it is successful in that it keeps british pinned up in canada long enough for general washington to force the british evacuation of boston. meanwhile, the key thing here is that the guns that they needed
1:24 pm
were in fort tikonderoga. nobody had taken the guns to the boston area. colonel knox is the guy. he's sent there in december 1775 and has to bring these back. the painting that's always shown and the stories are that he carried all these guns by oxen drawing these slay, pulling these guns over berkshires and over frozen rivers into the boston area where washington could use them to force the british from boston. in fact, he had no oxen. this is actually a myth. not true at all. he had mostly horses. so the reason of this myth is interesting. a lot of people just go to george washington's letters. they see this letter from knox saying i'm bringing the guns. it's going to be 134 heads of oxen. calls it this noble train of artillery. then after that letter is sent,
1:25 pm
knox actually negotiates with the local guy that has a monopoly on oxen. the local guy is like, well, okay, so you need oxen. i'm the only guy in town that's got them. you're getting funded by places like virginia that's wealthy, i'm going to charge you triple. knox went a couple days back and forth with this guy and finally said, i'm done. he hired horses instead. he broke off negotiations, used horses. it's not entirely accurate to say that he didn't use any oxen whatsoever because in a few key places he found a farm that could help him over a particularly difficult spot where they could lend him an ox for a day for that spot. for the most part it was horses that carried all these guns to massachusetts. finally with those guns in massachusetts, dorchester, the open space south of boston on
1:26 pm
the eve of the boston massacre anniversary, which is march 4th is the eve, march 5th is the anniversary, washington puts these guns in a new fort, just like what they did for bunker hill. he puts them on hills in dorchester. he knows that the new englanders will fight more fiercely on march 5th, anniversary of the boston massacre. that's why he does this. the british wake up on march 5th, see another fort. this time with a lot of guns. they decide, general howe now, he decides. he's going to put men in boats and attack americans fortified in dorchester. it's basically bunker hill again. it's like general howe didn't learn anything. he lost 40% of his guys and maybe he's going to wipe out the rest of them. here is the issue with this. i kind of glossed over it. it turned out not to be a big deal at the battle of bunker hill on the american side because they really didn't know how to use them yet. now they do, and they have a lot
1:27 pm
more guns. they have them on these heights overlooking boston. so the reason howe has to do something guns can hit anywhere in boston and they are too high for him to shoot back at. his guns cannot get a ball that high. there on the hills they can shoot down in boston. meanwhile john hancock, the richest man in boston has given washington approval to destroy the town if need be. whatever needs to be done to get the british out of boston. so general howe has no choice. the royal navy doesn't have better luck shooting balls up towards those heights. they actually do something called firing on the uproll. that means when a swell of water goes by and the boat rocks up, you can maybe fire that ball a little higher. it's still not high enough. they have no way to do any -- to put the americans on dorchester heights at risk except by landing troops and taking the americans on -- just like the
1:28 pm
battle at bunker hill. it would be fatal for the americans -- i'm sorry, fatal for the british. meanwhile the weather is really poor. some people call it a hurricane. some people call it a nor'easter. some people call it a gale. whatever it is, once the british are on the boats they are pushed offer and beached on castle island. they decide to postpone the fight until that night. meanwhile americans basically refortify and strengthen their positions all throughout this weather to the point that finally general howe calls off the attack. so weather prevents what would have been battle of dorchester heights. they agree to terms. this is march 5th. and on march 17th, st. patrick's day 1776 the british finally every last one of them are out of boston. they regroup in nova scotia with plans to come here in new york. in new york it makes sense for them, the royal navy can support
1:29 pm
them because they can surround the island and there are a lot of oilists in new york. so the plan is to move the campaign to new york and that's where all the fighting will be 1776 onward. all this happens before independence. so declaration of independence is not the start of the war. so one of the things i thought interesting when i was trying to get this book published, some of the people i was talking to early on said we're very interested in things that happened before the war, but we want to know about things happen 1776 onwards. that explains does not simply separate and revolt against home government unless a lot of things happen. of course the war begins in april 1775. now, i want to leave you with
1:30 pm
the final thought. so if you think america is divided today, i try to find the most serious looking pictures of both these two. i was trying to position them so they were staring at each other. i would argue we've always been divided. it goes back to the beginning. for example, we have the civil war. captain america versus ironman. i don't know if you saw it. i'm on team captain america. or we have the real civil war. clearly a divide. we fought over that one. there's also a major controversy that's waging throughout the country especially in georgia. i don't know if you know about it here in new york that's coke versus pepsi. atlanta you go there and have a pepsi. these not going to happen. the point is, it gos back to the beginning. we've always had division even in the revolution. it's easy to think now in
1:31 pm
retrospect, yes, i would be a patriot but would you be? would you put your finances, your house, livelihood at risk to support a revolt against the lawful government? the question -- probably the answer to it depends on when specifically you're thinking about it. if you're asking the question before shots are fired, you're probably more likely to be a loyalist or passivist but not committed to armed revolt against king george iii. things happen like battle of bunker hill you're more swayed to fight because oppression is now violent. so it depends also which column you are in new york, i mentioned, a lot more loyalists, partly why british moved the campaign to new york. however, in massachusetts maybe like 20% were loyalists.
1:32 pm
as far as pass ficifpacifyist. that was the case in canada which is why they didn't send anyone to continental congress. it's an interesting rhetorical question. if you think about that question in modern times, also revolutionary forces at work even today. i suspect being in the american air force, i would be a loyalist. so even though i want to say i'm a patriot. with that, are there any questions? [ applause ] >> desecrate dr. warren's body and bury him in a grave in front
1:33 pm
of earth works and kind of chop him up and it wasn't until a year later they are able to identify him by examining his teeth? >> he was buried at the battle right by the earth works. he was thrown in with no ceremony with another unknown american soldier. he was not chopped up. he was identified by paul revere's handiwork. considered the first known forensic dentistry. paul revere, as a silver smith, there was no true dentistry, he dabbled. he put silver wire to connect ivory tooth in warren's mouth. he was able to identify his handiwork and determine that was dr. joseph warren's skull. that's true, yeah. >> did the americans -- >> hi, excuse me. i'd just like to know, what kind of doctor was dr. warren? >> you mean like -- >> what type, a physician? >> there were no specialties at
1:34 pm
that time. two categories. you're a decision or surgeon. surgeons while they are respectable today, they were considered the low form of being a physician back then. it's a strange thing. physicians were generalists but they didn't do any cutting. they would send to you a surgeon. the guy that actually gets his hands bloody is like the lower quality guy. yes, sir? >> did americans actually fire the can obstacles they had at dorchester hill? >> they did fire some shots. i glossed over dorchester but for several days prior to their firing all around boston just to get the british kind of confused and unprepared for this assault that's coming, so they are firing all around. the british are kind of beefing up their defenses on all sides of boston because they don't know what's going to happen. there are some shots but there's really no attack, per se, on
1:35 pm
boston. it's mostly just harmless shots. >> what episode is the conclusion of your book? what period does it end? what date? >> so it ends approximately march 17th, 1776, which is the british evacuation of boston. it's leading basically a cliffhanger setup for the new york campaign. so these two books potentially part of a series. there may be more books. no one has written a series of books covering entire revolution probably because it's long and hard. the war doesn't end until 1771, really treaty 1773, fighting 1771. what i failed to mention when i started this project, what i said was film script, ultimate goal now is a miniseries. that's part of the reason i live in los angeles. if you're familiar with vander brothers set in world war ii,
1:36 pm
set in the revolution, that's the you will goal with this project. that's partly why if you read it, it's visual and cinematic. i actually see the scenes as i'm writing them. any other questions? >> knowing warren's importance to the revolution, why did he not stay off the battlefield especially with the other leaders gone? why didn't he go to the congress anyway? >> so he was actually offered -- well, they considered offering him a position as surgeon general for the new army but he wouldn't take it. he was just a guy who had to be in the middle of it all. he was in the fight -- i kind of glossed over that to, he was in a battle, the worst of the fighting when british went to concord and back, he was there in that fight as well. a shot actually passed through his hair and broke the pin
1:37 pm
holding his hair. he almost died there. but he's just the type of person that had to be in the fight but he went as a volunteer. colonel prescott, as well as putnam a connecticut guy, both at the battle. in both cases they offered their command to warren because of their respect for him. actually warren was just approved to be a major general in the new -- in the massachusetts army. the continental army wasn't quite assembled yet. paperwork, just like beaurocracy today, the paperwork wasn't done yet. he wasn't a major general. he came to the battlefield as a volunteer and in both cases putnam and prescott offered their command. he said i don't know what i'm doing. i'm just here as a volunteer. i want to learn from you guys because you guys have been here setting up these fortifications. i just want to learn and be in the fight. but that was his attitude. he wanted to be the true form of leadership, literally being in
1:38 pm
the fight at the front, not at the back. >> i have a question, two questions actually. as your editor and native of concord, massachusetts, who do you think actually started the american revolution in concord or lexington, that's not actually my real question. one of the things you do so well, derek, you bring to light these characters who were lost in all of history and everything that happened throughout the american revolution and certainly leading up to it. so i'm just curious to know, besides dr. warren, is there anyone else who you feel like hasn't been given their due and should be as a historical figure and somebody who was a big influence in the early days of the revolution? >> i think richard montgomery maybe not as big of an influence as dr. joseph warren, but he's
1:39 pm
the guy i showed leads one of those two prongs up to quebec city, he certainly hasn't been given his due. he's buried here in new york, though. again, i'm trying not to give away what happens in the battle of quebec for those that don't know the story. but he's certainly an incredible leader. he's -- because canada is ignored, he's often ignored, but he is one of the good generals at the early start of the revolution. >> to what do you attribute the failure of canada to join the american revolutionary cause? >> there's a couple of answers to that. so for the first continental congress they were not invited, the canadians. part of the complaints that the continental congress sent to england was that they were appalled that britain was treating massachusetts with such
1:40 pm
oppression while being liberal to the catholics in canada. so they talked about how the continental congress wrote about how the -- how england had fought many wars with france to keep catholicism out of british isles, thanks to british indian war with canada and quebec, canada and quebec interchangeable terms at this time, becoming part of the empire, now catholicism part of the empire and part of british america, so when the continental congress complained of this to britain, the people -- the government in canada learned about this. so nevertheless, in the battle of quebec and campaign in canada, there are canadians that fight on both sides. those that are fighting on the american side, there are some french but also a lot of just
1:41 pm
people like probably moving from new england up that way as became officially part of british america so they can freely move from colony to colony. while on the british side, a lot of those that were fighting were actually the retirees from the british army who had been given land in exchange for going and settling and putting that british influence in canada and quebec. so there's a lot of interesting aspects to canada. >> i've been hearing differe different -- when the casualties happened. i've heard as early as 1770 because the first casualties, on lies and legend of bill o'reilly. he said the first casualties was an 11-year-old boy, the boys of the revolution. this is what i've heard, just asking the question. >> so i first of all, i haven't
1:42 pm
watched any legend and lies. i'm told i made the cut for the john adams episode. so i'm in that episode. the answer is it depends when you count the start of the american revolution. so it's academic really. the american revolution is a political movement. the revolutionary war is the fighting within that larger umbrella term the american revolution. and i think no one would argue that the revolutionary war began with lexington and concourt in april 19, 1775. when the american revolution begins, that's a harder thing to answer. a lot of people would say that it began with the end of the french and indian war, because the whole taxation problem came about, exactly, because they were -- because britain needed money after they depleted all their treasury to pay for this war, really fought to defend western boundary of 13 colonies
1:43 pm
against the french and indians and established this new boundary. so they -- the french indian war as we called it also the seven years war in europe and became world war of sorts. it was hugely expensive for the british. so they needed to raise revenue. a lot of people argued that's the start of the american revolution. needing that revenue means new taxes, taxation without representation, protest in america. but it just depends on how you define the start of the american revolution. we need to get the mic up here. >> a book you recommend on joseph warren, a bio. >> biography. it's the biography by dr. samuel foreman. he's the most recent biographer, most up to date. yes, sir? >> my question is, how old was dr. warren at the time of the
1:44 pm
revolution and who would you like to play him in the miniseries? >> i forget his exact age. he's like 34 or 35. i don't remember exactly. he's a young guy, and he's very accomplished. he's a well respected doctor in boston. yeah, i have no idea who -- i don't know. [ inaudible ] >> harvard as he might say. yeah. so harvard was interestingly enough there's no medical school at harvard yet. he's kind of a proponent of a harvard medical school. part of the training was he would actually -- this was illegal but they would actually -- they had a club where they stole bodies from a cemetery to do like autopsies and stuff to learn anatomy because you had to learn it from
1:45 pm
books. it was considered unacceptable to use any formerly live specimens to learn. so he was a proponent of a harvard medical school. i believe his brother was kind of the one that made that happen later on. but the other part is that harvard really had two degree options. it was founded as a clergy kind of school where you could learn, you know, to be a preacher. or you could get a liberal arts, latin, learn the classics. so that's what most of them did, and that's that's what he did, learned the classics and gottlieb ral arts degree. you would go as an apprentice under an established doctor and that's how you learned to be a doctor. >> was there any noticeable tension when washington, outsider from virginia, came up to new england to assume the command of a bunch of new england militias.
1:46 pm
>> there was a lot of tension. that's part of this second book. one of the issues is -- this is crazy to me. each militia would vote their officers in for a term, depending on the county or colony, might be a year or two years. officers had to curry favor with men. didn't want to get vetoed out. they want to get re-elected. so the command was just abysmal. george washington complained very much about this in his letters and in his diary. the other problem was while the southern colonies starting to assemble troops to set up for this new continental army, some of the officers were coming that way and had no men to lead. washington wanted to break this what we call localism where, for example, people of this county would only serve under an officer from their county. no way am i going to serve under
1:47 pm
some guy from north carolina. that's ridiculous. so george washington broke up militias and turned them into mixing people. he constantly fought. there were men who refused to join the continental army. you had to choose to join continental army. had to reenlist people, it's a mess. that's part of what he's dealing with while lacking gunpowder, while the british doing other things in and around boston. it's just a big mess for him throughout december. well, all the way to december 17, 1775. that's definitely in the book but kind of hard to encapsulate in a presentation. any other questions? >> i have a question. i never heard any mention of
1:48 pm
catholicism ever brought up before in this sort of era. was there a kind of constant undercurrent between france and britain on a religious level? >> yes. >> i've never heard of this before. >> well, for the revolution -- >> religious war, proxy war? >> this wasn't really a religious war. later on the french joined with americans in part because they had a long-standing hatred of each other. after americans convinced french king they can win battles and turning point is the battle of saratoga, the french decide they are going to support the americans. part of it is just like, so wait, i get to fight the english again? this time i have a good reason to do it because i'm supporting a new nation? sure, we, the french, will absolutely do this. they took the opportunity once they were sure the americans
1:49 pm
could win. but there was -- yeah, there was a lot of fighting. i think it goes back to john of a ark. [ inaudible question ] >> not too long, just long hatred between the two countries. >> part of the schism as a catholic the allegiance to the pope and even king of france owed some allegiance to the pope. the english were anti-catholic because the buck stopped with the king, who was the head of the church in england. so that was the main -- going back to henry when he broke with the church and created his own church, created the church of england. that's why they were anti-catholic. in the americas, the only colony that really had a lot of clarks was maryland.
1:50 pm
pennsylvania was kind of open. pennsylvania was open to almost any church, but most places were anti-catholic. what i really was going to say, the image of paul revere is really the basis for the label on the sam adam's beer. he was not an attractive man and used paul revere as the model. if you've had enough, it would look good, but yeah, you know. >> it was paul or jack black? yes, sir. >> was it something that was already up and running? the first sort of maybe is the whale boats that may have fixed some small, very small cannon, they're fast and surprising a lot on the transports that are coming from england.
1:51 pm
the army takes charge ultimately but they're under congress initially and sanction some more of those ships and boats to be built later on in the fall of 1775, but yeah, the whale boaters are really the first navy on the seas and they're hindering this resupply of the british that are pinned up in boston. it's a big issue for the british. and actually that's one of the -- so the charming nancy is one major transport that the americans take because of those privateers.
1:52 pm
reaches a little camp in central
1:53 pm
kentucky and they decided to naem the camp after the first shot at lexington. and that is lexington, kentucky. it takes weeks to get there, but only days to get down to new york and i don't remember the exact time. it may be within a day or two. but all the way down to georgia and stuff. within a couple weeks, everyone pretty much knows about the first shots. and to paul revere, he helped get it started, and william daws kind of goes home after the british capture from paul revere, but the network continues from concord down. yeah. there's actually a poem about william daws that makes fact of the fact that nobody cares about him. but yeah.
1:54 pm
he's got many rides. the famous midnight rise is one of them. and there are several false alarm rides that he did before april 18th which is why warren sent daws and waited until he saw firsthand that they were sending in revere, he didn't to want send another false alarm. if he got trapped in the town of boston, one by land, air, and sea. any other questions?
1:55 pm
all right. [ applause ] thank you for coming out. >> will be on sale in the back and derek will be in the back signing copies and i hope to see you all next month for the evening lecture. >> thank you. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend, on c-span three. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at c-span history. >> in 2015 abraham lincoln foundation published a bunch of music. celebrating or responding to lincoln's gettysburg address. used in the 1863


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on